Research happens in all intellectual disciplines at Rochester—aesthetic, sociopolitical, scientific, technical, philosophical, mathematical, medical, musical, or artistic.
Below are images of research that capture the University’s commitment to understanding how the world works while also making the world ever better.
Bend it like Appalachia
Rochester researchers now know what causes the bend in the otherwise straight line of the Appalachian Mountains. The culprit? A dense, underground block of rigid, volcanic rock forced the chain to shift eastward as it was forming millions of years ago. “What we didn’t understand was the size of the structure or its implications for mountain-building processes,” says Cindy Ebinger, professor of earth and environmental sciences. This research could inform debates over the practice of hyrdrofracking. (Photo credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr)
Coping with the Cold
A newly discovered process helps explain how fruit flies cope when temperatures drop. Associate Professor of Biology Michael Welte and his team made their discovery while studying the internal mechanisms of the egg cell of the fruit fly, known as Drosophila. What keeps the assembly line functioning is a protein called Klar.
The University's new data visualization lab will allow researchers to manipulate large and complex sets of scientific information in ways that will make it easier to see patterns and find connections. The VISTA Collaboratory in Carlson Science and Engineering Library comprises an array of 24 monitors. It is 20 feet wide and 8 feet tall, and has a resolution (50 megapixels) that approaches that of IMAX theaters. The new lab is one of the centerpieces of the University's commitment to apply high performance computing and data science approaches to solve scientific problems.
Blazing new trails in ice core research
Vasilii Petrenko, professor of earth and environmental sciences, holds a 50,000-year-old ice sample from Antarctica in his University of Rochester lab. His research interests focus on understanding natural and anthropogenic climate and environmental change, particularly from the perspective of atmospheric composition and chemistry.
Super-thin membranes portend tiny pumps
A composite photograph highlights a super-thin silicon membrane that could one day lead to diagnostic devices the size of credit cards. Part of research in the lab of James McGrath, associate professor of biomedical engineering, the project demonstrates a new version of an electro-osmotic pump—a device in which fluids move through porous media in the presence of an electric field. The Rochester researchers were able to reduce the required electrical voltage from 10 kilovolts in a typical pump to about one-quarter volt, demonstrating a potential way to drastically reduce the size of future devices. (Photo: Adam Fenster)
A water droplet hangs on the edge of a metal surface that has been treated with a Rochester-developed process to repel moisture. Developed by Professor of Optics Chunlei Guo, the system uses extremely short (on the order of 10- to 15-second) bursts of laser light to alter the shape of nano-sized structures in the metal to make it nearly impossible for water molecules to penetrate. Potential applications for such “super-hydrophobic” materials include sanitation and other areas where repelling water-borne pathogens is important. (Photo: Adam Fenster)
The world is your classroom
Undergraduate majors in geological sciences found their classroom in the High Arctic, when they accompanied geophysics professor John Tarduno on an expedition funded by the National Science Foundation. The purpose of the expedition was to examine an episode of extreme Arctic warmth about 90 million years ago—as evidenced by a spectacular assemblage of vertebrate fossils, including turtles and champosaurs, extinct crocodile-like reptiles—and to test whether the period was related to an episode of volcanic carbon dioxide emission. Here, students examine aerial photos as part of a geological mapping exercise.
X-ray photoelectron spectrometer fills instrumentation gap
This high resolution imaging X-ray photoelectron spectrometer (XPS), acquired with funding from the NSF by PI Alexander Shestopalov, assistant professor of chemical engineering, is now available to University of Rochester researchers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It fills a major instrumentation gap at the UR and surrounding academia and industry by providing researchers with a highly sensitive quantitative tool to measure elemental composition and chemical and electronic states of diverse inorganic and organic thin films and solids, and a parallel imaging capability of chemical patterns and structured films with sub 3 µM lateral resolution. This permits highly accurate and non-destructive characterization of inorganic semiconductors and insulators, organic and polymeric thin films, bio-inorganic interfaces, organic self-assembled monolayers, multilayered thin film devices and air/moisture sensitive samples.
Secret to peanut-shaped star orbits peeled away
Alice Quillen, professor of physics and astronomy, and her collaborators have created a new 3-D map of stars at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, showing more clearly than ever the bulge at its core. Their mathematical model shows the stars probably move in peanut-shell or figure of eight-shaped orbits. Astronomers develop theories of star motions to not only understand how the stars in our galaxy are moving today, but also how our galaxy formed and evolves. This image is from an N-body simulation of the core of the Milky Way galaxy.
How infants and babies develop cognitive abilities
Led by Richard Aslin, professor of brain and cognitive sciences, research in the Baby Lab focuses on early human development. The researchers observe children while they watch movies or play, and then analyze their eye-gaze patterns and brain activity to study how they think, learn, and make decisions.